Boomkat Product Review:
Finders Keepers and Demdike Stare’s treasure trove side imprint returns with its first vinyl death rattle of 2017; a staggering side of ‘entrances to hell’ -like atonal wormholes and pure sonic panic from Bruce Ditmas. If you copped the two Ditmas reissues on Finders Keepers a few years ago, then good for you. But this one sounds eff all like them, and uncannily much closer to, say, Reinhold Friedl's electro-acoustic terrors or even the deconstructed club music and dissonant vocabulary of Chino Amobi or Helm. Trust this one is a proper rotten peach!
With roots in the early developments of modular synthesis and free jazz and revered amongst the most discerning collectors of electronic music and American avant-garde, experimental drummer Bruce Ditmas occupies a firm branch on contemporary experimental music’s family tree. As the one time romantic partner (and artistic collaborator) of sound poet Joan La Barbara (later to be Miss Morton Subotnik) and the stand out session drummer for both Robert Mason’s mutant synth Stardrive project and Gil Evan’s legendary Jimi Hendrix tribute band, Ditmas is best savoured as the first recorded solo artist to utilise Robert Moog’s lesser-known Moog Drum controller – an instrument which over the course of two 1977 independent LPs (Aeray Dust and Yellow) would become synonymous with his blooming reputation.
Raised in Miami, nurtured in New York City and willingly exploited internationally, Bruce’s public life as a child prodigy-cum-world jazz crusader (drawing similarities with the likes of France’s Jacques Thollot) has seen him spread his select discography over many imprints, including Joan La Barbara’s own Wizard Label, Enja and ECM – socialising with sound designers like Suzanne Ciani and collaborating on projects penned by Annette Peacock, Paul Bley and his long running collaborator Enrico Rava. Spending the last thirty years travelling between America and Italy as a full-time jazz musician whilst working with inter-communal music initiatives, film directors and theatre groups, Bruce has retained the same maverick passion and macabre creative influences channeling brutalism, futurism, science fiction and psychological horror through his percussive mantra and avant-garde approach to instrument manipulation and recontextualisation.
These selected archival pieces are extracted from various recordings made over the last three decades comprising field recording techniques and percussive manipulation resulting in gritty tonal soundscapes and angular sonic sculptures while drawing theoretical comparisons with European proto-industrial units like Germany’s Faust, Swiss electronic jazz pioneer Bruno Spoerri, Czech sonic illustrator Milan Grygar and sprawling generation of Parisian musique concrète informed anti-melodic luminaries. Reflecting a lifelong career in active melodic drum exploration and vivid existential sound design, this record provides an alternative, darker, meditative, glimpse into the work of a proactive composer at his non-conformist best in the uninhibited confides of his own home analog studio.